72,035! Congratulations to Atlanta United FC and their fans for once again setting the MLS single-game attendance record. After taking the league by storm in its inaugural season, Atlanta will play at shiny new Mercedes Benz Arena all season in 2018 and if this keeps up more records are bound to fall to the 5 Stripes.
Oh, and these guys can play. After a surprising 4-0 shellacking at the hands of the Houston Dynamo in week one Tata Martinez made a tactical switch to a 3-5-2 and saw it pay off in a decisive 3-1 win over visiting DC United.
Atlanta got goals from Joseph Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Hector Villalba in an expansive performance that gave that massive crowd much to cheer about, and plenty of encouragement to return.
2) The Perfects
This is the time of year that we all stumble over ourselves noting that “it’s early, yet” but it is still fun to be 2-0, so enjoy your perfection, Columbus Crew, Vancouver Whitecaps, New York City FC and Los Angeles Football Club, however premature that may be.
3) It’s Supposed to be Harder than This
I’m talking to you LAFC. Most pre-season prognosticators focused on the shallow roster assembled by Bob Bradley and his front office when evaluating the L.A. newcomers chances of success in season one.
Sure, L.A. got off on the right foot with a 1-0 opening road win over Seattle but the Sounders were resting several regulars as they prioritized the CCL, and it’s early, right?
But what to make then of the Galaxy’s noisy neighbors now in the wake of Saturday’s demolition of Real Salt Lake? 20-year-old Young DP Diego Rossi is tearing it up with three goals and three assists in the new season. Mexican international and LAFC’s marquee signing Carlos Vela looks very comfortable with his new running mate and MLS vets like Steven Beitashour and Bob Bradley’s old pal Benny Feilhaber are playing lights out for the expansion club.
Yes, it is early but so far so good for LAFC.
4) Red Bulls Play the Kids!
The Red Bulls have played just one regular season match so far in 2018 and they rested virtually their entire team in Saturday’s 4-0 home-opening victory over the Portland Timbers, coached by former MetroStar and New York soccer legend Giovanni Savarese.
With his club holding a 2-0 lead at the halfway point of its CCL quarterfinal aggregate goals match over Tijuana ahead of Tuesday’s second leg, coach Jesse Marsch took his own advice and played the kids.
Marsch stirred up some controversy just two weeks ago when, in answer to GotSoccer’s question, the NYRB coach bluntly stated that yes, “it is really important right now that we have coaches in MLS who are willing to play young players.”
That question and Marsch’s answer specifically referred to American players and against Portland Marsch included three fresh-faced young yanks among the nine changes from his first 11 and all impressed.
20-year-old new York born fullback Kyle Duncan excelled in his MLS debut, having just signed after spending two years trying to catch on in France. Derrick Etienne Jr. is a New Jersey product, even if the flamboyant attacker has pledged his international future to Haiti. Etienne Jr. picked up an assist on the first Red Bulls goal, the one scored by 17-year-old Ben Mines. Connecticut product Mines was dangerous for much of the night as he became the third youngest Red Bull/MetroStar to score in MLS play.
Play the kids Marsch said, and play the kids he did.
5) Kamara and Higuain on the Spot
Two MLS veterans reached milestones this weekend as Kei Kamara notched his 100th career MLS goal for his new club, Vancouver, in a 2-1 road victory, while Kamara’s former teammate Federico Higuaín tallied number 50.
That both men reached their milestones via penalty kicks is a rich irony given that Kamara left Columbus largely because of an ugly incident when the then Crew teammates fought on the field to decide which one of them would take a penalty kick.